AERIALS~ A Sherlock fanfiction by hrlyqin~ Chapter 23

The world became a quiet place. Everything was noiseless and utterly unmoving. Sherlock was aware that Jamie was in the room with him but he was only aware of this on the level that someone is aware of Mars. He knew it but it didn't affect him in the least. John was dead. There was a small boy sitting on the floor next to him. These two facts were light years away.

In the moments immediately after, Sherlock had frantically searched his vast mental stores for something to do. He could perform CPR, or the wiring from the plug in the wall to use as a directly applied current on John's chest. He could stitch the wound. He could take

The Body

and put it in a tub of ice to stave off decay. He knew that all of these actions would be useless but going over options staved off the moment where he would need to accept what had happened. When he had been forced to recognize that he was impotent to help John now, that was when time and sound and reality had simply stopped for him. If he just sat here, how long would it take for he himself to die? He could lay down on the floor and allow himself to expire. It would be like going to sleep after a long day. He wouldn't need to think anymore. He wouldn't have to face a world without John Watson in it. Was it the best solution?

Perhaps, if he were to get up right now and try to leave this place, he would discover that nothing else existed anymore. He couldn't believe that somewhere right now people were marrying and fucking and being born, getting pizza and drying their hair, going about their daily lives like the universe had not just radically changed. Surely everything was frozen in a state of despair. Surely it was raining, it must be. Surely the entire planet felt this loss.

Later, he did not know how much later, men came. They roughly shoved him aside and started touching

The Body

John. They wore gloves and spoke rapidly to each other in words Sherlock didn't comprehend. One of them remained while the other left the room to make some calls. These men brought more men, men in suits who tried to communicate with Sherlock. Were they insane, wanting to talk to him right now? He refused. They put their hands on him and moved him further away from John, forcing him to stand. A woman in a pencil skirt picked up Jamie. When the boy started screaming, Sherlock may have punched someone, he wasn't sure. It didn't really matter anyway.

.

.

.

If brother has green ladder arrest brother -SH

Sherlock tapped out the message with quick, studied fingers and then handed the phone back to the other man, who he honestly had not taken much notice of until he became of use. However, to Sherlock Holmes, not taking much notice meant observing more than the untrained eye would ever see and deducing from those minute details facts that would astound the pedestrian mind. In other words, although Sherlock hadn't really been paying attention to the stranger, he already knew everything about him.

Even as he sent the message, he asked him "Afghanistan or Iraq?"

When the other man seemed puzzled (no real surprise there), Sherlock repeated the question. "Which was it, Afghanistan or Iraq?"

He had answered the question, the answer being Afghanistan which Sherlock could have guessed if given twelve seconds longer, only to ask one of his own. He wanted to know how Sherlock had known all of that. Sherlock was certain that if he answered the question, he would get that look. The one that usually proceeded violence or abjurment. The look one gives upon observation of a freak. Luckily, he was saved from answering it by Molly bringing in the coffee. She had removed her lipstick which had somewhat improved her appearance, not that he cared either way, but commenting upon it gave him further excuse to evade the question posed to him.

HOW?

He hadn't been ready to answer that, not yet anyway, but it hadn't kept him from showing off. "How do you feel about the violin?" he asked. When he got another confused, cautious response from the man, this Doctor John Watson, he continued. "I play the violin when I'm thinking. Sometimes I don't talk for days on end. Would that bother you? Potential flatmates should know the worst about each other." He even managed a smile. It looked congenial enough, you'd have to know him better to know it was a sarcastic expression.

The doctor blinked, then blinked again. "You told him about me?" he asked Mike.

"Not a word." Mike had intoned, knowing that Sherlock was enjoying strutting his brain about like a peacock showed its feathers.

"Then who said anything about flatmates?"

"I did." Sherlock said, jumping back into the conversation. "Told Mike this morning that I must be a difficult man to find a flatmate for. Now here he is just after lunch with an old friend, clearly just home from military service in Afghanistan. It wasn't a difficult leap." He concluded, knotting his scarf with an extra bit of jauntiness. Normally, someone who have told him to shut up by now, it was really quite exhilarating to be allowed to go on like this. Almost as good as having the skull...

"How did you know about Afghanistan?" John asked, again wanting to know how.

Sherlock ignored him, still not ready. "Got my eye on a nice little place in central London." he said, not mentioning that if he really wanted it, he could have it to himself at a ridiculously reduced rate although that would put him in a difficult position with Mrs. Hudson. He had planned to keep himself scarce for five to six weeks then go moping to her that no one wanted to share the space with him, how impossible it was to find someone willing to accept all his little quirks and peculiarities, and then give her large plaintive eyes until she just let him have the run of the place. Perhaps bringing this little man around to meet her would help make his argument stronger. Or even, maybe...

Or this peculiar little soldier doctor might be indeed willing to put up with all the Sherlockness that was Sherlock. He thought it extremely unlikely, as friends and lovers had tried before and failed spectacularly, but it might just be worth a try. His mind wandered for a second, then he took command once more of the room and its inhabitants, pulling their attention back fully to him. "Together we ought to be able to afford it. We meet there tomorrow evening, seven o'clock. Sorry, got to dash. I think I left my riding crop in the mortuary."

Again, the man blinked. Several times. Perhaps it was a nervous compulsion. Sherlock was nearly out the door when he turned and said, "Is that it?"

"Is that what?" Sherlock replied, his perfect theatrical exit ruined. He circled back towards potential flatmate #4.

"We've only just met and we're going to go look at a flat?" John asked, smiling as if it had to be some sort of put-on. But his smile was kind, he was not repelled by the idea at least. If anything, he was amused.

"Problem?"

John looked at Mike, at Sherlock, and at Mike again. Mike refused to get involved, keeping the same genial expression on his face. Seeing that he would have no assistance, John puffed himself up and told Sherlock in a stern, slightly scolding tone, "We don't know a thing about each other. I don't know where we're meeting, I don't even know your name."

Sherlock appreciated the organized nature of the statement and the thought process behind it. John had not said that for all he knew, Sherlock could be some kind of maniac. He hadn't wondered how Sherlock would pay his share of the rent or even commented on what type of person hung around hospitals and morgues. He had instead volleyed reasonable, logical concerns at him. Sherlock decided to push just a little bit more to see how easily John Watson would be scared off. He let loose on him with the full force of his mind, the way a tidal wave is loosed upon the shore.

"I know you're an army doctor and you've been invalided home from Afghanistan. I know you've got a brother who's worried about you but you won't go to him for help because you don't approve of him, possibly because he's an alcoholic, more likely because he recently walked out on his wife, and I know that your therapist thinks your limp is psychosomatic. Quite correctly I'm afraid. That's enough to be going on, don't you think?" he finished with a little flourish, swinging himself back towards the door. Out of the corner of his eye and off the reflective surfaces in the room, he could see John's pursed lips and continued blinking. Not being able to resist, Sherlock paused in the open doorway and told him, "The name's Sherlock Holmes and the address is 221B Baker Street" He gave a wink and a click of the tongue before telling Mike to have a good afternoon and swept away before his exit could be ruined again.

Walking out of the hospital, he found himself examining the possibilities for what tomorrow evening at seven pm would bring. There was a large chance John would just not show up, most wouldn't after they'd had time to digest Sherlock. Or he would already have decided that Sherlock was unstable but still want the prime apartment so he would have all sorts of demands and rules for their living space. Mike could wind up telling Sherlock off for getting shirty with a perfectly valid flatmate. Or still, the greatest possibility, the most unlikely of them all but one that danced cloyingly around in Sherlock's thoughts, the chance that John and he could cohabitate together and further more, that this small conversation in the sterile room would be something Sherlock would later look back on as a point when his life was changed.

He did not know then, could not have known no matter how intelligent he was, how correct he was in that last assumption or how many moments between then and now that he would come to regret bitterly as chances he would never have again. Moments like sand that slipped through his fingers.